Officials in some of the largest media organizations in the United States are accusing the federal government of violating their constitutional rights by not allowing them to use drones to capture video or take pictures.


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Those 16 companies claim the federal aviation administration is being too strict by limiting how a journalist can record events. They filed a court brief supporting a photographer who faces a $10,000 dollar fine for flying a small drone to film a commercial video back in 2011.

FAA officials say they’re concerned about safety of people in the air and on the ground. Also, last week a local station in Arkansas released aerial footage of the deadly tornado aftermath. The Arkansas Gazette newspaper reports that the feds are now looking to see whether the drone violated any laws.  

Today on Shepard Smith Reporting, Fox News senior judicial analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano called it “repellant” that the federal government can use drones to kill people, but private citizens can’t use them for lawful purposes.

“We are not talking about the news media violating privacy. We’re talking about the news media using a drone to take a photograph where it is nearly impossible or highly impractical for a photographer to go, a place that a government drone could easily go,” he said.

Shep noted that it’s not an issue of drones possibly violating privacy laws. In his experience as a chopper reporter in Florida, he said that camera lenses had the ability to capture what’s going on in people’s homes but they didn’t do so.

“There’s nothing different here except the means by which the camera travels. The camera has always been able to travel there; we just have a new way to do it," Shep said. “If you can use it to kill people, why can I use it to take pictures?”

Judge Napolitano that the media is simply looking for practical ways to gather information, while the government is giving priority to itself over private enterprise. He said the feds are violating the First Amendment by prohibiting this, and predicted that they’ll lose the case. 


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